Today’s news:

Down for some action - Carroll Gardens rallies for new zoning rules

About 100 people assembled on the steps of Borough Hall this week to support City Council-member Bill de Blasio’s call to rezone Carroll Gardens. “We desperately need the city to immediately commence the down zoning study and to take all necessary steps to try and keep the 50-foot height limit on new constructions and alterations on the residential streets of Carroll Gardens,” de Blasio said Tuesday morning. The next day he was in the City Council introducing a resolution urging the same. “We are delighted to be moving forward,” said Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Associ-ation (CGNA) President Maria Pagano. The organization has been among a very vocal and engaged group of neighborhood critics who have been pushing de Blasio to fight for downzoning. Recently announced City Council candidate Gary Reilly called the resolution a “watershed moment.” “Many of us in the community have been working to make this a reality for months,” Reilly said. “For many, it’s been years. Carroll Gardens is a special place. The low-rise, walk-up buildings, the tree lined streets and the mom-and-pop stores that line our streets are what make this such a desirable community to make a home in.” But groups like the CGNA and CORD – Carroll Gardens Organization for Respectful Development – maintain that new out-of-character developments at places like 360 Smith Street and 333 Carroll Street are destroying that appeal. “The Department of City Planning has made it clear that Carroll Gardens is a priority for downzoning; however, they claim that they do not have the resources to begin a study in the near future,” Assemblymember Joan Millman said. “We are asking the city to give the Department of City Planning the resources needed before neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens are irrevocably destroyed.” On Court Street, residents fear that developers planning a high-rise condo at the site of the old International Longshoreman’s building are not only annihilating neighborhood aesthetics, but possibly poisoning them with improperly removed asbestos. “It seems like the city is not on the ball,” said local dad Michael Berman. “It’s a terrible omen of what we’re in for.” Pagano warned that more problematic developments are currently being planned for 185 Huntington Street and 176 and 178 President Street. “At this point we know pretty well that the mayor is not interested in downzoning anywhere,” Pagano said. William Stein, the developer behind the 360 Smith Street project is expected to discuss his building plans with the community at the next meeting of the CGNA on February 11. The meeting will be held at the Mary Star of the Sea Residence located at 41 1st Street between Hoyt and Bond at 7:30 p.m. Councilmember de Blasio also called on the Department of Buildings to forego issuing any new permits that would allow construction or alteration to an existing building to exceed a height limit of 50 feet until the Carroll Gardens neighborhood downzoning is complete. “The community and elected officials have all been looking toward the same goal, and that is to protect our neighborhood,” he said. Community watchdogs are now looking for a concrete timeline when they can expect to see some changes on the ground. “We are not going to sit here and wait for this to happen,” said Pagano. “We are going to continue to network with other groups in the city. We’ve been introduced to other civic and community groups and have been impressed with what they have accomplished.”

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